It’s incredible how much we can glean as adults from children’s stories we’ve heard our whole lives. Take Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, for example. We can relate goals to this story pretty well, actually; some are too big, some are too small, and some are just right. A goal too big can overwhelm us, causing us to eventually just give up. A goal too small is achieved very quickly and easily, but we never quite make the substantial progress we’re looking for. A goal that’s just right, though, hits the sweet spot. But what does this mean exactly?
To me, setting the correct goal means creating one that challenges me, but provides me stepping stones to get where I’m aiming to go. It’s great to set the large goal, but that can’t be our only goal. I find that it’s best to break these seemingly larger-than-life goals into manageable checkpoints aligned with timeframes. Compose a little map of mini-goals, that will get you to your finish line. Have specific dates that you will check in with yourself to make sure you’re on track or in a position to change course slightly.
For me, I also like to take the time each week to jot down what specifically I want to achieve toward my goal over those next seven days. How much do you want to accomplish per week? Write that down to hold yourself accountable to getting to the next checkpoint. I like to think that there’s nothing quite as solidifying as pen and paper. Etch those words down and stick to them. Some of us might prefer daily steps we can accomplish to amount to our larger aim. Others would rather set weekly goals, but I would advise to stick with one of these two. Once you get into monthly territory, that’s when projects easily get put on the backburner. A month’s time is usually better for a checkpoint. A lot happens in a month!
And how do we keep the larger goal at the forefront of our thoughts amidst all of these steps? Motivation is key. I like to use a vision board or sticky notes around my space to encourage me and remind me of what all of this work is ultimately for.
Once we’ve identified our timeframe, stepping stones, and have our reminders around us, that’s when we’ve created a goal that is physically in front of us, and thus won’t get lost in the throes of life. The name of the game in this age is “busy”, but don’t let that stop you from remembering what is important to you in bettering this world. Now for a little personal example that I’m currently structuring in this way:
Project: my novel-in-progress, Caspertown.
Large goal: to finish and publish it.
Checkpoints: (Broad enough to adjust yet specific enough to be accountable)
- November 3, 2019: First chapter of the newest manuscript is drafted.
- December 29, 2019: Nine or more chapter drafts complete (one per week).
- March 29, 2020: Manuscript finished or nearly finished.
- April 26, 2020: Research done on self-publishing and literary agents.
- May 3, 2020: Proofreading/revision process begun on manuscript.
*this is where I’m going to leave it for now, as it’s already well into next year.
Vision Board: sailboats (symbol of the novel), favorite authors (T.S. Eliot, Anna Godbersen, Oscar Wilde, etc.), information I stumble across throughout the process.
This structure is bound to change as I embark on the journey itself, but it’s good to have an idea going into it in order to hold myself accountable. It can be so easy to push goals that don’t seem necessary off to the side, but if we can grant ourselves even a couple hours per week to the projects that truly fulfill our passions, it’s incredible just how much we can accomplish. And always remember to celebrate the little victories while pushing yourself along the way! What are your just-right goals that you want to pursue?
Much Love, Quinn
Crazy cat lady. Exploratory writer. Much love.